Widely known as a Rogue ability, Stealth allows players (or NPCs) to sneak around undetected. Stealth can also be used by Druids in cat form (Prowl). In this guide, we’ll do some theorycrafting to understand how this ability works in-depth and how it is affected by another ability, Vanish.

According to wow.gamepedia, “the chance of detection increases as you get closer, but also depends on the camera angle (stand right in front of an enemy and you can guarantee they’ll see you), relative levels, and/or any perception/subtlety modifiers.”

Detection vs. Subtlety

The rule of Stealth is simple: the closer you are to your target, the higher the probability that you will be detected.
This formula is based on two factors that rule how Stealth functions:

– Subtlety, a score of stealth effectiveness
– Detection, a player/NPC’s score that allows them to detect a stealthed enemy

Subtlety, like Detection, increases 5 points with each level.
This means that:

a level 70 Rogue has a score of 350 (70*5) Subtlety
– all players have a detection score of 350

Night Elves

‘Elusiveness’ racial trait (Night Elf) improves that player’s Subtlety level by +5.
You cannot find this trait in your spellbook, however, during patch 3.0.2, Blizzard confirmed the ability’s existence since release, leading to an interesting argument when choosing your race

WoW Night elf racial patch 3.0.2

By default, a level 70 player will be able to see a stealthed unit from 5 yards away, with every 5 incremental points of Stealth corresponding to one incremental yard. In addition to this, Night Elves have one extra yard.
The difference between Subtlety and Detection determines the distance that a Rogue could be spotted. 

How Do You Improve Your Rogue’s Subtlety Score?

First of all, you need to know that Stealth caps at 1-yard minimum.
You can play with a Stealth score of 1000 but your enemy will still be able to see you one yard away. This also explains some specific situations where a rogue could be spotted during vanish. In other words, you have to make sure to be at least two-yards away to safely use Vanish
This means that you don’t need to stack more than +20 bonus Stealth talent/items against a player that has not increased his Stealth detection.

RACE

Play Night Elf for an additional passive +5 subtlety.

TALENT TREE

As a Rogue, you must specialize into the talent Master of Deception. It grants your Rogue a +3 bonus of Subtlety for each point (up to 5 points).

Having 5/5 in the talent Master of Deception can translate into: 

– Increases your Stealth level, through an additional +15 points to your Subtlety score
For example: 350 (base) + 15 (bonus) = 365 Subtlety score for a level 70 rogue (370 with Night Elf bonus)
A Stealth score of 365 is equivalent to a level 73 versus a level 70 player.
– A 3-yard reduction versus level 70 enemy without any detection improvement.

ITEMS

Figurine – Shadowsong Panther grants an additional +1 to your Stealth level which means: 

– +5 to your Subtlety score
– A 1-yard detection reduction versus enemies

This is one of the reasons why Jewelcrafting is a good profession for rogue on TBC.

Playing with those two choices (5/5 Master of Deception + Shadowsong Panther) increases your Stealth score by +20. Stacking more would be overkill at some point unless you also want to avoid human enemy rogues with Perception (+50 detection).

SPELLS

Vanish also improves your Subtlety level significantly (+60) for 10 seconds. 

According to the game’s database, the correct values are : 

– Stealth (Rank 4) acquired at level 60, has a base value of 300 (+5 per level after level 60) → 300 + (70-60)*5 = 350
– Vanish (Rank 3) acquired at level 62, has a base value of 370 (+5 per level after level 62) → 370 + (70-62)*5 = 410

This why pre-Vanishing can be a good way to counterplay Perception or paranoia (until the last yard). But if you use Shadowstep on a Warlock to sap him, his Fellhunter will likely be able to detect you if you are in his cone of vision.

How to detect stealthed rogue players?

As detailed above, one of the main factors in detecting a stealthed unit (be it players or NPCs) is the Human racial trait Perception but there are a few more options.

SPELLS & TALENT

A level 70 player’s Stealth Detection score is increased by +50 when Perception is activated. This would give you a total Detection score of 400, including the 350 base score. This means you gain an extra +10 yards to detect an enemy that has no Stealth bonus equipment. (5 yards from base skill and 10 yards from Perception = 15 yards). However, it is often the case in PvP that you will face Rogue opponents using 5/5 Master of Deception (+15 Stealth score) decreasing the distance you will be able to detect them by 3 yards. Despite this, 7 yards is still a significant advantage and, usually, you would want to use engineering goggles (like X11 or X44) which further increases your detection score by +5 (incremental 1-yard of detection).

Through the Heightened Sense Talent (2/2) in the Subtlety tree, you can gain an additional +6 to your Detection score (equating to 1 to 2 yards)

If you play Rogue/Warlock in arenas, your partner’s Felhunter will buff you with Paranoia. This ability provides a +30 bonus to the Detection scores of all party members within 30 yards of the Felhunter! I’ll let you do the maths if you pair both Lock’s pet buff and the Human Racial trait… now you understand what made this combination so popular back then.

A popular TBC video demonstrates this; make sure to check NerfSap10 by Happyminti after you are done reading this guide.

Stealthed rogue cone of vision on wow classic TBC

Another solution explained before is to pre-Vanish but this does not eliminate all risk. If you want to sap an enemy during Vanish mode, please do it from max range.

Listing of items and talents affecting Stealth and detection (SPREADSHEET)

STEALTH IMPROVEMENT
FEET Stealth Loc Info Source Lv Special
Boots of Displacement 8 Naxx 16% Gothik 60 Incr. Stealth
Darkmantle Boots 8 DaMa Q SC Upgrade Quest 60 Incr. Stealth
The Master’s Treads 5 R 67-68 Random World Drop 68 Incr. Stealth
Silent-Strider Kneeboots 5 HR-H 7% Omor the Unscarred 70 Incr. Stealth
Whisperwalk Boots 5 RHM Q Ravenholdt Q Reward 50 Incr. Stealth
Nightscape Boots 5 LW 235 LW Trainer Recipe 42 Incr. Stealth
TRINKET Stealth Loc Info Source Lv Special
Figurine – Shadowsong Panther 5 JC 375 SW Recipe Drop 70 320 AP 15s/Stl
Figurine – Nightseye Panther 5 JC 370 Cen Exp Rev Recipe 70 320 AP 12s/Stl
Figurine – Black Pearl Panther 3 JC 215 JC Vendor Recipe 38 Stlth,90AP15s
ENCHANTS Stealth Loc Info Source Lv Special
Enchant Cloak – Stealth 5 AQ R Boss Drop Recipe
ROGUE SKILLS & TALENTS Stealth Loc Info Source Lv Special
Stealth (Rank 4) 350 Rogue Skill Rogue Class Skill 60 -30% Movement
Vanish (Rank 3) 60 Rogue Skill Rogue Class Skill 62 10s Dur / 5m CD
Master of Deception (Rank 1) 3 Rogue Talent Tier 1 Subtlety Talent 10
Master of Deception (Rank 2) 6 Rogue Talent Tier 1 Subtlety Talent 11
Master of Deception (Rank 3) 9 Rogue Talent Tier 1 Subtlety Talent 12
Master of Deception (Rank 4) 12 Rogue Talent Tier 1 Subtlety Talent 13
Master of Deception (Rank 5) 15 Rogue Talent Tier 1 Subtlety Talent 14
CONSUMABLES Stealth Loc Info Source Lv Special
Sneaking Potion 30 Alch 315 Vendor Recipe 50 1m Dur/ 2m CD
Stealth of the Stalker 8 BEM Q BEM Quest Reward 65 5m Duration
NIGHT ELF RACIALS Stealth Loc Info Source Lv Special
Shadowmeld Passive 5 NE Racial Night Elf Racial Ability 1
Shadowmeld (Active) ??? NE Racial Night Elf Racial Ability 1
DRUID SKILLS & TALENTS Stealth Loc Info Source Lv Special
Prowl (Rank 3) 300 Druid Skill Cat Form Stealth 60 -30% Movement
Feral Instinct (Rank 1) 5 Druid Talent Tier 2 Feral Combat 15
Feral Instinct (Rank 2) 10 Druid Talent Tier 2 Feral Combat 16
Feral Instinct (Rank 3) 15 Druid Talent Tier 2 Feral Combat 17

STEALTH DETECTION

HEAD Detect Loc Info Source Lv Special
Hyper-Vision Goggles 30 Eng 360 Engineering Recipe 50 15s Dur / 2m CD
Catseye Ultra Goggles 18 Eng 220 World Drop Recipe ? Stealth Detect
The Night Watchman 10 R 69-71 Random World Drop 70 Incr St detect
Bloodvine Lens 10 Eng 300 Vendor 60 Stealth Detect
Quad Deathblow X44 Goggles 5 Eng ? Upgrade Recipe 70 Meta Socket,etc.
Deathblow X11 Goggles 5 Eng 350 Engineering Recipe 50 Meta Socket,etc.
ROGUE SKILLS & TALENTS Detect Loc Info Source Lv Special
Heightened Senses (Rank 1) 3 Rogue Talent Tier 5 Talent 30
Heightened Senses (Rank 2) 6 Rogue Talent Tier 5 Talent 31
CONSUMABLES Detect Loc Info Source Lv Special
Elixir of the Searching Eye 15 Alch 325 World Drop Recipe 55 10 Min Duration
Distilled Stalker Sight 15 BEM Q BEM Quest Reward 65 10 Min Duration
Catseye Elixir 10 Alch 200 Alch Trainer 30 10 Min Duration
RACE/CLASS ABILITIES Detect Loc Info Source Lv Special
Perception (Humans) 50 Human Racial Human Racial Ability 1 20s Dur / 3m CD
Hunter’s Track Hidden Hunter Skill Hunter Class Skill 24 Minimap icons
Warlock Felhunter’s Paranoia 30 Warlock Skill Warlock Class Skill 42 Party buff
Druid PVP Gloves 10 Druid PVP Druid PVP Rewards 60

Thanks to Shadowpanther.net for the spreadsheets.

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